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The legacy of Ellice MacDonald

Ellice Dòmhnallach CBEEllice MacDonald CBE was 100 years old when he passed away last year. He played a key role, as a Trustee and generous benefactor, in many of the major developments which the Clan Donald Lands Trust delivered in Sleat and he was a good friend to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

The Clan Donald Lands Trust was established in 1971, and Ellice was one of the most generous benefactors and supporters of the Trust from the outset. He was a long-time Trustee and was also the CEO of the Trust for many years. He established the Glencoe Foundation, a private charitable foundation which made contributions to Scottish organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland, the Royal Caledonian Schools in Bushey and the Clan Donald Lands Trust on Skye.

In addition to the legacy he left Skye through his work with the Trust, Ellice MacDonald also made available to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig the land upon which Àrainn Chaluim Chille and the Tower were built. The Tower, Lòchran an Dòmhnallaich, The Lantern of MacDonald,  was named in his honour.

He said of himself at the time of the opening of the Tower: “I was High Commissioner of Clan Donald USA for six and a half years, I have been a trustee of the Clan Donald Lands Trust since 1971, my family came from Glencoe, I consider myself a MacIain and I think the view across the Sound of Sleat to the hills of Knoydart, on a clear day when the wind is from the east, is probably the finest and most stirring in the world.”

Remembering his legacy, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal Professor Boyd Robertson said: “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig owes a great debt of gratitude to Ellice MacDonald for enabling the College to develop the magnificent Columba Campus overlooking the Sound of Sleat.  The  campus has been described by several visiting academics as being one of the finest in Europe. It is fitting that Ellice’s contribution to the expansion of Sabhal Mòr is acknowledged in the naming of the tower that is such an iconic part of the landscape.”

Ellice was born in New York in 1913, and his forebears were Glencoe MacDonalds. He was involved in various MacDonald societies and organisations, and he was at the forefront of the efforts in North America to strengthen those societies and expand their work and networks. He was awarded a CBE in 1995 for his contributions to Scottish-American relations.